Wednesday, April 30, 2008
I'm in a New York state of mind
Tomorrow marks the final day of my four-year stint as a New York City resident. It's one of the most bittersweet things I've ever experienced. A part of me still can't believe I ever moved here in the first place. I never imagined myself living here, even when I was preparing for a career in theatre. I assumed I'd end up at a regional theatre or maybe a University. Turns out I did things backwards--regionals and teaching first, big bad city second. The first time I visited the city, back in 2001 for my graduate class showcase, I knew it had an energy like nothing I'd ever experienced before. The more I visited, the more I wanted and needed to be a part of that energy. Part of move wanted to see if I could keep up. Another part of me knew I could. To say NYC welcomed me with opened arms is the understatement of the century. Things happened fast once I got here and now, looking back, it all seems like yesterday.
My first night as a New Yorker was spent at Meredith's Brooklyn Heights apartment. I met up with her at the Biltmore Theatre as soon as I got off the bus and we went out for Mexican food. It POURED rain and there were no cabs to be gotten, so we took the subway. My first subway ride as a resident. Clutching my map. Drenched. Tugging at my suitcase. Terrified. Today I took my last subway ride as a New Yorker with my four month old son riding happily on my front in his Baby Bjorn. It was a much less eventful ride--we went to the mall to turn in our cable box. I didn't even look to see which train we were getting on because I knew I could get us home no matter which line we took. That ride made me think about who I was when I got here versus who I am now. While I like both of those versions of me, I cannot imagine myself now without the experience of living here. I'm thrilled to be going back to a small southern town, but I'm even more thrilled that I have had the stamina, drive, temporary insanity (???!!!) and guts to tough this place out for this long. The experiences Marcus and I have had here, both together and separate, will certainly play a part in how we raise Dean. If he ever decides to do something we think is just a little crazy, all we have to do is remind ourselves how many months we spent in this tiny one-room apartment and things should fall into perspective pretty quickly.
Since I've been here, I've made some amazing friends and built on some existing friendships. To my friends here who have become my New York family, thank you for your time, energy, love and support. I will miss you terribly. When I told my college chum Qui that we were leaving NY, we both agreed that even though we don't see each other that often, it's nice to know we live in the same city. There's something comforting in the knowledge that, even in the city of great anonymity, you can still run into someone you know just about anywhere. I have loved our coffee dates, our explorations and exploits, our touristy activities, our long talks. I look forward to my first visit back to see what wonderful things you've all been up to and to have you show me all the fun new things the city has to offer.
This huge wave of nostalgia hit me on Sunday as we drove back in from DC. I saw the skyline and realized that would be the last time I entered NYC as a resident. Don't get me wrong--I'm thrilled about our move. Marcus and I have known forever that we wanted to get back to the south some day. Ever since we found out we had a bambino on the way, the clock has been ticking. This job came up at the perfect time and we are so excited about building a life in Alabama. But we've been so focused on getting out that we haven't really taken much time to remember the great things about living in NYC. Italian delis and bakeries, bagels, hot dog vendors (oh, how I love thee!), not being able to spit without hitting a Starbuck's, every kind of food you could ever wish for, Broadway at your doorstep, Christmas in Rockefeller Center, Central Park, Union Square on Sunday mornings, the damp smell of the subway, and the little jolt your heart feels every time you look over at that Manhattan skyline. These are just a few of the amazing things I am so happy to have in my memory bank now. Not to mention, since I've been here, I have:
*Worked on 2 Broadway shows (still unbelievable)
*Gotten engaged AND married
*Figured out the subway system (no small feat)
*Ridden said subway system while hugely pregnant
*Had a baby (the best part of it all!)
Plus a million little things that will now be a part of the tapestry of me forever. (Did I just say "the tapestry of me?" Jeez...)
I have no idea how to end this post except to say I have taken my bite out of the big apple and I'm proud to have been a part of the city that never sleeps. But it's time to be a resident southerner again.